Photos: Ed Mulholland
New York City -- The rematch is officially on. After months of debate, speculation and verbal jabs, unified light heavyweight champion Andre "SOG" Ward (31-0, 15 KOs) and former unified light heavyweight champ Sergey "Krusher" Kovalev (30-1-1, 26 KOs) met in midtown Manhattan on Monday to formally announce their highly anticipated rematch set for Saturday, June 17 at the Mandalay Bay Events Center in Las Vegas. The championship event will be produced and distributed live by HBO Pay-Per-View beginning at 9 p.m. ET/6 p.m. PT.
After a controversial loss by unanimous decision last November, Kovalev has been outspoken about his desire to get back in the ring with Ward -- and that bravado was on full display Monday. After taking a moment to apologize to his fans for his loss in the previous fight, Kovalev -- through an interpreter -- said, "I’m not going to do much talking -- June 17 will talk for itself. The only thing I can hope is a week, or two weeks before the fight that Andre Ward does not get injured and that he has the balls to come and fight me on June 17."
On the other side, Ward allowed his team to do much of the rhetorical sparring for him. Longtime manager James Prince predicted a decisive victory, saying, "Don't be surprised if Kovalev gets knocked out -- don't be surprised. We don't have no fear of nothing you bring to the table. Once again the United States will be victorious against Russia, as always."
For his part, Ward addressed critics who have suggested he feared a rematch with Kovalev. "Nobody in this room can point to a fighter I've run from. That's not on my track record," Ward said. "Whether you with me or whether you against me, tune in. It's gonna be a great show. Don't miss this fight. June 17, [Kovalev] got what he asked for."
Follow the conversation leading up to the contest using #WardKovalev.